Jake Nickell

Jake Nickell



Chicago, IL USA

I've been lucky-I've done pretty well-but even if I'd been doing this for the past 14 years and making just enough to get by, I'd still consider it a success.


By Roadtrip Nation

Jake Nickell

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My road in life took a while to figure out.
Taught himself how to build websites when he was 14, but kind of "burnt out" on that after he got stuck making basic sites for local businesses.
Was into art and math/computer science, and he had choose between the two when he was picking a college.
Decided to choose art school but worked as a web developer on the side.
Entered a t-shirt design into a competition and won; realized how amazing that felt and started Threadless that day.
Had been spending most of his free time browsing a global art forum online; offered to start printing artists' work on t-shirts.
People were interested, but Jake didn't even really know what he was doing; had to call screenprinters, figure out how to make his offer work.
Wasn't financially successful for the first two years because he put every dime back into printing more shirts, but that paid off in the long haul.
Loves that Threadless fosters a community where artists can show pride in their work, know that 5,000 people all over the world are wearing their prints.
Keep following my journey


High School
Web Page, Digital/Multimedia and Information Resources Design
The Illinois Institute of Art-Chicago



I grew an online community of artists into a multi-million dollar e-commerce phenomenon.

Career Roadmap

My work combines:
My work combines:
Being Creative

Day to Day

I spend most of my time building online tools for artists to share and monetize their work.

Skills & Qualities Beyond School

I think it's great to pursue formal education but it's even more important to take initiative to learn things on your own outside of school.

Advice for Getting Started

Here's the first step for everyone

Always have a personal project on the side that you are working on. It keeps you distracted, but also might lead to something incredible and unexpected.


The Noise I Shed

From Society in General:

"You are just a scam. "

Challenges I Overcame

Rapid Growth